Everyone has a dream. Some have big dreams, some have small dreams but we all have one. It is a motivation to survive and to be happy. The world we live in is not a place of peace anymore; there are conflicts and natural disasters everywhere. Being born in the undeveloped countries, some are living a more difficult life than those living in more civilized countries in Europe or the United States. These poor people are mostly from third world countries like Burma who either live under severe oppression or flee from war zones like Syria and Libya. Having their lives at risk everyday, they seek ways to flee their homelands just to breathe the air of freedom and liberty. They have no other option but to leave everything they have behind for the sake of their families and children. This is where the human traffickers show up like vultures circling over their prey and take advantage of this situation. They deceive these desperate people and take everything they possess in exchange for a dream. No, you did not read it wrong; these smugglers say they sell dreams claiming they are trustworthy people offering the only way to leave oppression behind. Having no other option, the helpless sell everything they own and pay for their dreams to come true.
The journey does not start as soon as they pay the smugglers. They have to be fortunate enough to receive calls from them to get a date and reach the boats to attain their dream. When they receive the call, the difficult journey to a new life begins. They are not all healthy adults; many children, pregnant women and the elderly in poor health are among them. The sea journey itself is like a floating prison with conditions no human should suffer, according to one Syrian asylum seeker.
Regrettably, during the last two years, of the asylum seekers who fled their countries by boat trying to reach the European countries, many lost their lives to the sea: In the first three months of this year alone, the number of people who lost their lives on these trips is ten times more compared to the same period last year.
What’s worse, these months were supposed to have the lowest demand from asylum seekers due to winter conditions on sea journeys; the numbers are very likely to increase in the coming months.
A similar incident happened last Saturday and this time the Italian and French navies succeeded in rescuing 1,400 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
It is pleasing to see such successful rescue operations after encountering the deaths of 800 migrants in the Mediterranean
, which is considered to be one of the worst seen in decades. Sarah Tyler, a spokeswoman for Save the Children in Catania, Sicily, said "...that is almost as many as died in the Titanic, and 31 times the number who died when the Costa Concordia sank."
This human catastrophe is happening before the eyes of the world. In 2014 alone 3,000 migrants have perished or gone missing trying to reach Europe to have better living standards. The reason for the increase in the number of casualties over the last two years is the decrease in search and rescue operations by the European states; they believed the demand of the asylum seekers to reach Europe would diminish that way. In 2013, the Italian navy used to run rescue operations called Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), which cost $10 million per month. Due to its expensive cost, Europe started new rescue operations called Triton, which amounts $3 million a month.
Each member state of the EU has a great responsibility for the sake of the lives of asylum seekers. They should act in unity putting aside their own interests. What the world is facing here is an immense tragedy, which is wholly unacceptable in terms of human rights. Since members of the EU come up with different perspective in terms of the proposed solutions, they are not likely to put forth a concrete solution for the migrants anytime soon. Regarding the responsibility of Europe, Judge Pinto De Albuquerque of the ECHR stated that, “Refugees attempting to escape Africa do not claim a right of admission to Europe. They demand only that Europe, the cradle of human rights idealism and the birthplace of the rule of law, cease closing its doors to people in despair who have fled from arbitrariness and brutality. That is a very modest plea, vindicated by the European Convention on Human Rights. We should not close our ears to it”.
Human life must be considered as the most valuable matter in this world and each of us has to do our best to protect others and make sure they can live the life they deserve. European countries claim they do not have enough resources to accept these migrants but it is high time for some of them to step up and act as pioneers for these desperate people. Precautions are necessary for every step like what should be done before these risky sea journeys take place and after the arrival of these hundreds of people. They should never make them feel like outsiders. They should welcome them and make them feel at home. There are many free places in many parts of the world and these can be turned into safe havens where asylum seekers can reside. New job opportunities can be created for these newcomers and schools can be built in these special areas. The choice they make is not easy and they are facing enormous difficulties to make their dreams come true. Let’s join forces and give them the life they have dreamed of.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Tehran Times & Weekly Blitz: